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Joys of cooking at ISCAHM

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FOOD. Glorious food and how to cook them seems to be everybody’s interest nowadays. Its serious pursuit have given rise to numerous prestigious culinary schools in Manila, a few also opening its branches in Cebu.

The International School for Culinary Arts & Hotel Management (ISCAHM) recently opened its doors in the ground floor of Synergis IT Center along F. Cabahug Street in Barangay Kasambagan in Cebu City. But long before its opening, Austrian Chef Norbert Gandler, one of the founders of ISCAHM, which opened in Quezon City in 2003, introduced the school in Cebu as early as 2006 through the back-to-back Food Exhibit and Cebu Goes Culinary Competition events by the Hotel, Resort & Restaurant Association of Cebu. (HRRAC). Chef Gandler was always invited to be one of the culinary competition judges, and actively promoted ISCAHM in the Food Exhibit

To showcase the impressive culinary facilities to Cebu journalists, ISCAHM-Cebu Director for Culinary Arts Chef Sean McSavaney, a Canadian, invited several of us to a half-day culinary course one Saturday morning. The three-course lunch we were instructed to prepare included salad, soup and a main course. We were divided into groups with four members. Chef Sean moved with impressive skill and ease in the kitchen as he showed and gave us pointers in cooking techniques essential in the preparation of the entrees. After all, he has been in the hospitality industry for 26 years, There were useful pointers on searing, creating cinnamon foam, deglazing to take the flavors in and details for the Mise en Place or French phrase for everything in place. Faculty Assistant Ian Gamboa, a graduate of ISCAHM, ably assisted Chef Sean.

Each entrée taught us basic techniques in the preparation. Seared Tuna Salad Nicoise is a healthy and colorful salad. Searing the tuna seals the freshness and flavors of the fish. Just as I like my salad, vinaigrette must only “kiss” the vegetables lightly. The Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Cinnamon Foam was deliciously velvety. While I prefer my pumpkin roasted to give it a smoky flavor, we simply boiled the chunks of pumpkin to save on time. A very useful classic French method is the use of Matignon, finely diced carrot, celery, onions and leak, which is sautéed in olive oil until translucent. This is a flavor base used in soups, sauces sand stews. The main course was Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Prune Chutney served with Carrot Flan. While we learned to tie the pork tenderloin to give it a nice rounded shape and marinate this. Chef Sean had to demonstrate the preparation of the prune chutney and Carrot Flan due to time constraints.

ISCAHM has three schools with the main in Quezon City, one in Makati and the latest in Cebu. Each school offers distinct diploma programs. Cebu has its 12-months program focusing on fundamental culinary skills. A diploma course will earn for the graduates an Australian Certificate III that will help them in applying for jobs abroad, especially in Australia and Commonwealth countries.


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